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Lynne Serpe is Green choice

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Astoria’s Lynne Serpe said she will focus on environmental issues in her bid for City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr.’s (D-Astoria) seat this fall as a Green Party candidate, but will also give equal weight to a proposed rezoning of the community, the economy and expanded library service.

Serpe, a community liaison for Long Island City’s nonprofit Community Environmental Center, has entered her first race for higher office, facing off against incumbent Vallone, Republican Tom Dooley and Jerry Kann, who previously ran on the Green Party line during the past two elections.

Vallone decided to seek a third term after removing his name from the Queens borough president race when incumbent Helen Marshall decided to run again.In October the Council voted to extend term limits to three four-year terms for city offices.

Serpe, who lives in Astoria, said she had decided to run for the seat when Vallone put his name into the borough president race. She chided the Council for voting to overturn term limits last fall.

“I was appalled at the undemocratic power grab by the mayor and the City Council,” she said. “I think it is now even more important to offer voters more of a choice. I feel I have a fresh vision and a plan for a healthier, greener city.”

District 22 includes Astoria and Rikers and Randall’s islands, as well as slivers of Long Island City, Woodside and Jackson Heights.

She said some of the issues on which she will run include fighting the further construction of power plants in Astoria, extending bicycle paths through the community, ensuring the planned rezoning of the community includes affordable housing and does not change neighborhood character, creating seven-day library service in the community and giving support for gay marriage and economic measures.

“The district has several power plants, but the idea is not just to rally against them but to offer practical solutions by reducing energy consumption and promoting alternative energy resources,” she said. “There is also a significant lack of people having access to affordable transportation options. There is an enormous part of the district not served by subways or buses.”

She also said she wants to make sure the city keeps Astoria’s “neighborhood feel” as it weighs options to for the community’s first major rezoning in 48 years. The project’s boundaries would be Broadway in the south, Steinway Street in the east, 20th Avenue in the north and Long Island City’s Vernon Boulevard in the west. It would include downzoning in residential areas and upzoning in commercial districts.

“My concern is about some of the upzoning in the commercial corridors,” she said. “We don’t want a proposal that is out of character with the neighborhood.”

Serpe will also focus on the economy in her campaign and intends to promote the development of new businesses in the community. She said she believes empty storefronts should not only be filled by cell phone companies and Duane Reade chain stores.

“For me, it’s all about creating jobs and supporting small business,” she said. “I’m seeing more and more ‘For Rent’ signs on Broadway and Steinway Street. I think a fresh approach is important. I don’t owe anyone favors and I’m not obligated to party machinery.”

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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